A Righteousness I cannot earn

March 6, 2010 at 6:47 am 2 comments

The Law:

“Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.'” (Deut 6:25 HCSB)

The Jews had 613 laws that they had to follow. Right standing with God was based totally on their desire and/or ability to keep these commandments.

Peter (in Acts 15) called this “a yoke neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear”.

What Jesus did:

Paul consistently throughout his letters preaches about a different righteousness; a new righteousness; a righteousness that is a gift, not earned; a righteousness that is by faith, not by performance; a righteousness that doesn’t look at sin, but believes in Christ:

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no-one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”
(Romans 3:19-22 NIV)

“Sin conscious” is a place I have to admit being stuck in for the vast majority of my Christian life. Instead of looking for Jesus and trying to find “the gold” (Christ) in others, I was looking for sin, and trying to scoop out the dross. The law makes you aware of all the sin that is in you and going on around you, but it also leaves you powerless to do anything about it. All you can do is try a little harder, and obnoxiously point it out in others.

I have to admit that I started to notice that most of our church services are totally void of the mention of Christ. The books on the Christian book shelves are all about how to make myself better. The sermons are mostly about how to live a better life. I started asking myself: “Where’s Jesus in all of this?” I purposefully started tracking the number of times Jesus was mentioned as the source, the goal, the beginning, the end of our Christian walk and life and surprisingly I found that He wasn’t. When Jesus is mentioned – it’s at the end of a sermon on the things you must do – and of course you can’t do it without Him. This “Jesus is my co-pilot” type of message always puts me in control – and leaves Him somewhere in the background. Yet in scripture I found a different focus.

I looked at the songs we were singing – where I was the worship leader. In our file cabinet – songs were filed by the first line of the song (because none of us ever could figure out what the title of a song was). Songs beginning with “J” – maybe 10 or 15. Songs beginning with “I” – hundreds – they took up a whole shelf. We are obsessed with “I” and trying to prove to Him that we love Him – but have forgotten that “He first loved us”. (1 John 4:19)

“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.””
(Romans 4:1-8 NIV)

As if Romans isn’t enough – the whole book of Galatians is dedicated to the subject. Galatians is the first letter Paul ever wrote. The very first epistle is about one thing: Stop trying to earn your way with God through following all these rules – and believe in Jesus Christ. You see the cross is not just about my sins being buried with Christ – the cross is about “ME” being buried with Christ. The high-performance, self-righteous ME was nailed to the CROSS along with the sinful ME (they are one and the same). I can no longer earn my way by doing the right thing – I must believe that Christ is my only way. My right standing with God is not based on my successfully following one or all of the 613 commandments. My right standing with God is based on my believing in Jesus Christ – and is credited to me apart from the obvious (and totally unknown) shortcomings (sin) in my life. I can come to God through Jesus Christ in whatever state or condition I find myself in – failure or success. Won’t you come too?




Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Driven to perform….

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jim Hall  |  March 9, 2010 at 12:05 am

    My favorite worship song has always been, “Jesus, What a Wonder You Are.”

    There was a song a few years ago that became very popular in churches with the theme, “it’s all about Jesus.” This was presented as some kind of new revelation.

    But it’s ALWAYS been all about Jesus. Just a problem with people being distracted by a variety of things that are worthless and pointless and not recognizing that it has always been “all about Jesus.”

  • 2. Jerry  |  March 12, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Yeah I agree 100% Jim. If we major on anything else, we are in error. When we get our eyes off of Him and onto us, we are in trouble.


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